The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that pays farmers to rent their land along streams for restoration and conservation purposes. In this program, riparian buffers are established, maintained, and removed from agricultural production for 10-15 years. Each state provides their own match funding to this program and in Oregon, OWEB provides a 25% match.
Oregon’s CREP program is unique from other states due to its cumulative impact incentive payment. This is an additional payment that a landowner (or group of landowners) can receive if the riparian establishment is more than 2.5 miles of a 5-mile stream segment. The Oregon program also funds conventional projects at the standard compensation rate.
Please refer to the Documents section of this page for resources related to the items below.
Effectiveness Monitoring, Phase 1
An effectiveness monitoring project was initiated in 2007 to evaluate CREP in Oregon. This project compared two approaches to riparian buffers: Oregon’s cumulative impact buffers and separate shorter riparian buffers. An unbuffered riparian area was used as a control measure. The project was meant to answer the question: Are stream conditions improving at each riparian establishment project or is a longer riparian establishment needed to improve stream conditions? A variety of indicators of stream health were measured including stream physical characteristics, macro-invertebrates, and the presence of invasive plants.
The study found a higher concentration of macroinvertebrates indicating good stream conditions in CREP-buffered streams than in unbuffered streams. However, there was no evidence to suggest longer riparian buffers (cumulative impacts) were more effective at improving stream conditions than shorter riparian buffers.
Invasive plants were identified in CREP buffers. However, Himalayan Blackberry was found to be the only dominant species in the study area.
It is worth noting that these CREP buffers were all less than 5 years of age and a longer time period (~15 years) may be needed to allow riparian trees and shrubs to mature adequately and clearly define the effect on stream condition. A next step is to look at these or similar sites in 5 to 10 years to determine if a longer time period would yield more definitive results.
OWEB recently initiated a statewide evaluation of the CREP program in Oregon and developed a draft study design that consists of three tiers:
- Assess existing CREP projects using readily available information.
- Perform an assessment of existing projects by collecting data in the field.
- Establish a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) study to track changes associated with newly enrolled contracts over a 10-year period.
CREP Tier 1 Summary
In January 2014, OWEB initiated Tier 1 of the Draft CREP Study Design. Staff from federal, state, and local agencies administer the CREP Program in Oregon. A select group of staff who are familiar with the program were asked a series of questions about what types of information are stored in the contract files and Farm Services Agency (FSA) database(s). The initial Draft CREP Study Design contains an exhaustive list of existing information to be compiled for the Tier 1 Assessment. This process was designed to characterize the CREP contracts statewide that were enrolled from the inception of the program to March 2016 and establish a sampling universe from which Tier 2 sample sites will be selected.
Riparian Buffer and Marginal Pastureland Wildlife Buffer Study
Stillwater Sciences (Stillwater) was contracted by OWEB in 2015 to develop and implement an effectiveness monitoring study of CREP contracts implemented in Oregon, focusing on two of the most common conservation practices (CP) used in the program: Riparian Buffer (CP 22) and Marginal Pastureland Wildlife Buffer (CP 29). The overall intent of this extensive, post-treatment, statewide study was to assess the effectiveness of the CREP program restoration actions on improving riparian conditions, not to evaluate individual counties or sites. Stillwater adapted regional sampling protocols to select sample site locations and collect relevant field data, and subcontracted with Sitka Technology Group to tailor an existing data-gathering and management program for this project, and with Cascade Environmental Group to provide input on survey approaches and to assist with field data collection.
Willamette Riparian Revegetation Effectiveness Study
In 2014, OWEB provided monitoring funds to Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to assess the quality of high density riparian plantings in the Willamette valley implemented by practitioners over the course of more than a decade. The restoration projects are located in lowland sites within the Tualatin, North and South Santiam, Calapooia, Luckiamute, Middle Fork, Long Tom, and Marys River watersheds. Clean Water Services implemented projects in the Tualatin watershed from 2000 to 2014. Local watershed councils in the watersheds of the mid- and upper-Willamette implemented their projects from 2010 to 2014. This completion report documents the activities and general outcomes of the Willamette Riparian Revegetation Effectiveness Study implemented in the summer and fall of 2014.
OWEB provides competitive, statewide CREP Technical Assistance (TA) grants to support costs associated with local CREP program implementation including staffing, travel, training, outreach, and planning. OWEB issues a solicitation for CREP TA Grant applications every 2 years.